Toyota’s 2000GT is a classic car that sometimes flies under the radar a bit. The car was first developed by Toyota as a rival to the Jaguar E-Type, indeed there are similarities in their styling. The 2000GT though injected fresh energy into Japan’s automotive industry. Which for years seemed as only able to create practical and imitative vehicles. The 2000GT though showed the world Japan could create high performance cars. Some even say it is Japan’s first ever supercar. That makes the 2000GT the perfect classic for gearheads worldwide.
It is of course an expensive car in 2023. But one that deserves a lot of attention and love. Of course, the 2000GT was also a James Bond star, only adding to the fame and value of this truly exceptional grand tourer. It’s no wonder that the 2000GT sells for a lot of money at auctions.
The 2000GT Was A James Bond Star
Perhaps the most famous aspect of the 2000GT is that it was a film star, in a very special form. It made its appearance in the James Bond franchise with the 1967 film You Only Live Twice, a lot of which was actually filmed in Japan. This saw two special topless models created for the film, driven by “Bond girl” Aki in the film, played by Akiko Wakabahyashi. The usage of the 2000GT in the Bond film was one of the most inspired uses of product placement seen at that time.
Audiences had no clue who had built the car in the film. But when they realized it was a Toyota, visits to local dealerships in Tokyo increased dramatically. Amazingly, a Chevrolet Camaro was originally intended for the film. This before Sachio Fukuzawa convinced director Lewis Gilbert to use a Japanese car. It’s certainly a decision that paid off handsomely. As you might expect, the open-top models of the Toyota 2000GT are cars that Toyota treasures, with one in the Toyota Kaikan Museum in Toyota city.
The Light 2000GT Had Superb Handling
The Toyota 2000GT is certainly not a heavy car, especially compared to those of today. The curb weight of the 2000GT is just 2,469 lbs. This is a touch lighter than the E-Type 4.2 which weighs in at 2,579 lbs. A 2.0-liter straight-six engine, transformed into a sports car engine by Yamaha, is what powers the 2000GT. It is often forgotten that Yamaha played a huge part in developing the 2000GT. This engine is enough to give the engine 148 hp although a 2.3-liter inline-six produces 138 hp for the 2000GT. In terms of how it drove, the 2000GT offered up some pretty impressive handling.
The 2000GT is also praised for how responsive the engine feels, and how quick the steering is. The 2000GT responds beautifully to the commands of the driver, although you have to take more time with it compared to a more modern equivalent. But the 2000GT is very much a real driver’s car with plenty of poise in the corners and enough grunt for the straightaways. It is remarkable to think that just 337 regular production examples of the 2000GT were actually built. Making it one of the rarest Japanese cars in history. This only adds to the mystique behind it. The handling and engine though proved that Japanese manufacturers could create performance cars.
Toyota’s 2000GT Is Worthy Jaguar E-Type Rival
The E-Type has often been the 2000GTs main rival, and for good reason. The styling is incredibly similar. Incorporating the classic gran turismo styling that the E-Type had become famous for. Indeed, designer Satoru Nozaki was directly inspired by the E-Type. The 2000GT features smooth, flowing bodywork plus pop up headlights. These flank the grille similar to what was on the Toyota Sports 800. The bumpers were minimal too, keeping the car as sleek and as elegant as possible. Even with the headlights up, the 2000GT was a work of art.
The performance though was more than enough to take on the Jaguar E-Type and other rivals from Europe. In 1967, Road & Track stated that the 2000GT was “one of the most exciting and enjoyable cars we’ve driven.” Glowing praise that would have done Toyota in Japan wonders. It was a wake-up call to Europe that Japan was coming.
The 2000GT Is One Of The Best Toyotas
The 2000GT is quite clearly one of the best Toyotas ever made. It features truly iconic styling, with enough power and some very good handling as well. It’s historically significant as well. It’s seen as the first Japanese supercar, and one that showed Europe Japan could make fun as well as practical cars. With so few produced, these cars regularly fetch over $1 million. So if you are lucky enough to even see one of these in the wild, then savor that moment.
Sources: Toyota, Mecum Auctions